12 Indian Traditional New Year celebrations that you should know

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New Year celebrations are just around the corner. And by new year, we mean the traditional Indian new years that follows the Sanskrit calendars. Its spring time and also that part of the year when traditional new year festivities’ falls. Lets take a rollback and find out how and where these amazing New Years celebrations are taking place.

1. Ugadi:

Yugadi or Ugadi which comes in the month of March / April every year marks the start of Hindu New Year in most of the states, especially in the southern part of the country.

Yugadi is made up of 2 root words: Yuga (age, era or epoch) and Adi (Beginning). Thus Yugadi / Ugadi marks the beginning of a new era or epoch, not only in the calendar year but also in the life of an individual. Panchanga, religious almanac, is read in gatherings wherein people gather to hear the recitation.

Special eateries like Obbattu or Holige (Karnataka), Bobbattu (Andhra Pradesh) and Puran Poli (Maharashtra) are prepared which are tempting delicacies. They are flat Rotis or Flat breads stuffed with a mixture of jaggery, grams, flour, grated coconut, sugar etc as per regional preferences.

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2. Gudi Padwa:

Gudi Padwa is the grand Maharashtrian New Year that is celebrated on the same day as Yugadi in the month of April. It is also celebrated in mid-southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Konkan. Courtyards of rural houses are cleaned and plastered with fresh cowdung and designs called Rangolis are drawn on doorsteps.  Gudi means flag and Padwa means hoisting in Marathi. Lord Brahma is worshiped on this day and the gudi, Brahma’s flag, is hoisted in every house and vehicles as a symbolic representation of Rama’s victory over Vali.

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3. Navreh/Navrojh:

The lunar new year in Kashmir is celebrated as Navreh and it is also the first day of the Navratras. The word navreh, derived from the Sanskrit nava varsha, literary meaning ‘new year’. This day finds mention in Rajtarangini and Nilamat Purana of Kashmir and is regarded as sacred in Kashmir as the ritual of Maha Shivratri.

On the eve of Navreh, a platter of unhusked rice with bread, a cup of yogurt, a little salt, a little sugar candy, a few walnuts or almonds, a silver coin, a pen, a mirror, some flowers like rose, marigold, crocus, or jasmine and the new panchanga or almanac is kept and seen as the first thing on waking up in the morning. Kashmiris celebrate with great pomp and splendor to commemorate victory of their greatest and famous king Lalitaditya. Navreh falls on the same day as Ugadi or Gudi Padwa.

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4. Rongali Bihu:

Bihu is the most important and national festival of Assam falling in mid-April. Bihus are celebrated with fun and abundance by all Assamese people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, faith and belief. The Bohaag Bihu or the Rongali Bihu marks the New Year at the advent of seeding time. It is the Festival of Merriment and celebrated grandiosely. Assamese people buy new attires to adorn the festivity. The Bohag Bihu is considered major among the other Bihus celebrated prominently in Assam.

On the first day of Rongali Bihu, it is dedicated to the bihu-TPcaring upkeep of livestock and a cattle show. Typically the collective cattle of a village are brought to a water source like a pond or a river. The cattle are washed with a combination of symbolic herbs : maah-halodhi (black gram and turmeric paste), whipped dighloti (litsea salicifolia, a plant with long leaf) and pieces of lau (bottle gourd) and bengena (brinjal). Games are organised which include collecting exho bidh haak (101 types of green leafy vegetables), with variations of activities which may include specifics like gathering amlori tup (larvae of weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina), binding betel leaf plants, planting some bamboo roots, and many other symbolic harvest related ritual materials. There is also an occasional food fight, also known as Kori Khel, Paakha Khel and koni-juj. At Dusk, the cattle are paraded back to their ranches. The cattle are decorated with new harnesses, dressed in garlands, and are fed pitha (the typical Assamese confectionery). The day’s end is marked by burning rice bran to create smoke.

On the second day, people have a special maah halodhi(turmeric) bath, put on new clothes and light up the household prayer place. The “Manuh Bihu” involves the tradition of seeking blessings from the elders in a family and presenting the ceremonial patch of Bihuwan or the Gamusa cloth, as a gift, to be worn as a symbol of cultural pride. A ‘Gamusa’ is an indispensable part of Assamese life and culture with its distinctive symbolic significance. The intricacy of its handcrafting symbolically historically heralded of the ideas of friendship, love, regards, warmth, hospitality and it is intimately woven into the social fabric of Assam. On the third day, deities are worshiped. Bihu includes home made peetha, tilor laaru, doi siraa, payokh and many more such delicious eateries are a must in every household.

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5. Puthandu:

Puthandu is the Tamilian New Year and also known as Varuda pirappu. It is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai, which falls on April. Women draw patterns called kolams. A lamp called a kuttuvilaku is placed on the center of the kolam, to eradicate darkness and bring forth light and happiness. A ritual called kanni  which means ‘auspicious sight’ takes place wherein devotees watch jewellery, fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts, rice etc., as it is a common belief among Tamilians that it brings prosperity. People wear new clothes and special dishes are prepared for the occasion.

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6. Vishu/Chingam:

Vishu is celebrated as Malayalam New Year’s Day in Kerela on the first day of the Malayalam month of Medam mid of April along with Bihu and Baisakhi. The Malayalam New Year in Malabar used to be the 1st of Kanni (Bhadrapada–Asvina) and that in the Travancore region was on the 1st of Chingam (Shraavan-Bhadrapad).

It is considered a festival of decorating lights and bursting of firecrackers (Vishupadakkam). Other elements of Vishu include buying of new clothes (Puthukodi) for the occasion, the tradition of giving money called Vishukkaineetam , and the Vishu feast items include Veppampoorasam, Mampazhappulissery, Vishu kanji and Vishu katta consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items.

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7. Thapna:

Thapna is a New Year as per Marwari calendar known as Marwari Miti. Starting with 1st day of Chaitra Shudh in March. In Rajasthani language people greet each other by saying “Nava baras ri badhaiyan” and on this day people do homas. In Rajasthan, the New Year Day ‘Thapna’ is celebrated on April 8 and people set up the auspicious pots ‘Kalash’ to welcome Shakti Maa and begin Navratri festival of nine-day fast.

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8. Baisakhi:

Baisakhi is a harvest festival, a Punjabi new year festival, and commemoration of the founding of the Khalsa, all rolled into one occasion. It’s celebrated with a great deal of feasting, bhangra dancing and folk music. Major celebrations are organized at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and it becomes a grand carnival. April marks the coming of the festivity and Punjabis shout ‘Balle-balle’ to announce the celebrations and begin the bhangra.

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9. Jude Sheetal:

It is also popularly known as the Maithili New Year. It falls during the month of April and the festive occasion is in keeping with the Vikram Samvat, an official calendar of Nepal and whole of Mithila region. This day falls on the 13-14th or 14–15 April and coincides with the new years of other eastern states of India. Sweets and greetings are exchanged. This day is also called Hanumant Dhwajadanam, the day Hanuman’s flag (and hence Mithila’s flag) is to be flown. It is also the birthday of Raja Shailesh (Shailesh was the king of Himalayas region of Mithila who won area up to Tibet) whose garden is at the Mahisautha in Siraha district headquarters of Nepal.

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10. Cheti Chand/Chaitti:

Cheti Chand is celebrated as New Year’s Day by Sindhis. According to the Hindu calendar, Cheti Chand is celebrated on the second day of the Chaitra month known as Chet in Sindhi. It is the second day of month chaitra i.e. a day after Ugadi and Gudi Padi.

The festivals of Chaitti and Basoa are celebrated as New Year festivals in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Chaitti is celebrated on the first day of month of Chaitra which according to the Bikram Samwat is the first day of year. The first day of this month is considered very important and is celebrated all over the state of Himachal.

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11. Sajibu Nongma Panba:

“Sajibu Nongma Pānba” also called “Meetei Cheiraoba” is the new year festival of the people of Manipur. The name Sajibu Nongma Pānba derives from the Manipuri words: Sajibu – the first month of the year which usually falls during the month of April according to Meetei lunar calendar, Nongma – first date of a Month, Pānba – to be.

The Meetei people celebrates the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast for lunch are ‘de rigueur’. The day, begins with ritual offerings of fruits, vegetables, rice and other uncooked food items to the Meitei deity Lainington Sanamahi during the early morning of the festival. It is believed that on the day of new year anything that happens on that day will happen for the rest of the year. It is also a tradition that the family members climb a small hillock specially prepared by the community  to pay homage to the hill deity, signifying the elevation of the spirit to reach the divine. It is a popular practice in the region.

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12. Poila Baishakh:

The Bengali New Year celebration is popularly known as ‘Poila Baisakh’ (Bengali poila = first, Baisakh = the first month of the Bengali Calendar). It’s the first day of the Bengali New Year, which usually falls in mid-April every year.

People wear new clothes, exchange sweets and pleasantries among friends and acquaintances. Younger people touch the feet of elders and seek their blessings for the coming year. There’s also a custom of wearing gem-studded rings to appease the stars and planets, and people read Panjikas, almanac. Poila brings huge food festivals all over Bengal and food exhibitions are held during the festivity.

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